Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Western Watersheds Project Wins Grazing Suit in California

On Friday, March 30, 2012 a federal district judge in San Fransisco ruled that the Forest Service violated the law when it issued grazing permits on five allotments on Mendocino and Klamath National Forests without performing the requisite environmental review.

The Forest Service had claimed that its issuance of these grazing permits was "categorically excluded" from review under the nation's premier environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), because of a legislative rider that was tagged onto the 2006 appropriations bill.  The rider had allowed the Forest Service to categorically exclude grazing permits from NEPA if the permit continued current grazing management, if monitoring indicated that current grazing management was meeting management plan objectives, and if there were no "extraordinary circumstances."

United States District Judge Phyllis Hamilton found that the Mendocino Categorical Exclusion did not comply with the rider because the monitoring was inadequate, and that the Klamath Categorical Exclusion did not comply with the rider's "extraordinary circumstances" prong because the Forest had failed to consider impacts to designated wilderness.

Our thanks go to Warren Braunig and Lauren Rule of Advocates for the West who represented Western Watersheds Project and a coalition of other organizations in this case !

Dr. Michael Connor
California Director


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